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It can be a double-edged sword when things are going well for once in your life, but if your approach to songwriting has always been something of a therapeutic one, it can mean more of a struggle…

It can be a double-edged sword when things are going well for once in your life, but if your approach to songwriting has always been something of a therapeutic one, it can mean more of a struggle… Holliava frontman Michael Soltys finds it amusing and frustrating all at once, but claims that, luckily, his band’s debut album Stay Where We Lay was pretty much done and dusted back in May. Seven months later, the Melbourne melodic-rock foursome are about to launch a mini-tour on the back of their first single – a track which Soltys claims gave them hell in the early recording stages.

“Oh, it just wasn’t happening with that one!” laughs the singer. “It’s actually pretty ironic that it ended up being the first single, if you think about it. We had a lot of doubts about that song (Stay Where We Lay) right up to trying to rehearse it for the recording session. It just didn’t click… The chorus wasn’t coming together and dynamically it was quite woeful. After we tried quite a few times to get something going with it, it actually turned out to be the best song on the whole album. Matt [D’Arcy] who engineered the album goes around telling people it’s his pride and glory. When he goes to show people what he’s done, he uses that track. It’s been really surprising.”

Melancholy and moody one moment, hard-hitting and bombastic the next, an even flow was the last thing Holliava aimed for when it came to the overall sound of Stay Where We Lay. It might have taken 18 months for the whole album to come together, but according to Soltys, it’s a debut that will hopefully leave a lasting impression on the Melbourne scene. “Maybe it stems from something an ex-girlfriend said to me when I was 18,” offers Soltys.

“I was in this band and I asked my girlfriend at the time which was her favourite song that we came up with. And she said, ‘I don’t really know, they all sound the same’… That’s probably the worst thing you could say to a musician! Our next single – a track called Good To Me – was actually written back in 2008. It’s the one we like to call our ‘Triple M’ or ‘Sports Tonight’ rock song. It’s fun and catchy but it’s not poppy because it’s got the most balls on the album! There’s a song called You Were Only A Hit…I’m Your Biggest Addict which is probably my favourite on the whole album. That came together from a fleeting moment of where you meet someone for less than five minutes and you never see them again, but you lose your mind over them. For me it took place during a trip to Thailand.

“The rest of the songs are kind of social commentary as well, except for this one called Staring At The Moon, which is just quite dark and moody in vibe.”

Dark days and melancholy nights are over for Soltys these days, however, with the singer claiming that finding happiness in his personal life of late has had something of a weird effect on him. “I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit slack with writing over the past 12 months,” he says. “And it sounds so ridiculous when I realise why. Unless you’re Jet and every song is about partying or something, when everything starts going right for you it does impact your songwriting, especially if it’s been therapeutic up until now

“It’s so ironic because I’m really happy with my life at the moment, but that’s proving to be a struggle inspiration-wise! I sat down recently and looked through my book of lyrics from the past year and it’s like the last song I finished was a year ago! I think I’ll make that one of my New Year’s resolutions – to write some new songs.”

But Soltys refuses to push it, though. Unless it’s genuine and straight from the heart, it isn’t worthy of making it on the band’s next record. For Soltys, finding a songwriting idol in Chris Cornell has taught him that.

“I’m not that into his solo stuff but I’ve been listening to Soundgarden heaps lately,” he explains. “I didn’t know this until I did a bit of a research on Chris Cornell, but he suffered depression and was an alcoholic… Now, I don’t want to be anything like that, but it just makes you look at the songs in a different way and it makes you realise just how genuine as a songwriter he really is. You listen to the lyrics, and now it all makes sense. It’s the same with Rage Against The Machine. They released an album in 1993, then in 1996, then in 1999 – why they were such an amazing band and all three albums were brilliant, it came down to not pushing it just for the sake of having an album.

“Timing has a lot to do with it and if you’re not coming from the right place people will notice a lack of feeling and will not relate to it.”

HOLLIAVA launch their impressive debut album Stay Where We Lay at Revolver Upstairs this Friday December 10, with special guests Celadore and Innerspace. Stay Where We Lay is out this Friday as well.